UNAIDS - 22 February 2012
In an official meeting with President Boni Yayi of Benin on 20
February, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe called on the
country's Head of State to use his position and influence as
President of the African Union to accelerate the HIV response
across the continent.
"We are counting on you to help us push forward the HIV response
in Africa," said Mr Sidibe, in a meeting with President Yayi in
Cotonou. "With your leadership, I know that Africa can achieve
the targets in the 2011 Political Declaration on AIDS."
Mr Sidibe urged President Yayi to encourage his peers to allocate
a greater share of domestic resources to the AIDS response. The
UNAIDS Executive Director and the President agreed on the need
for a high-level debate on how to finance Africa's AIDS response
over the long term.
During the meeting, the UNAIDS Executive Director congratulated
President Yayi and his government on achievements in the national
response to HIV.
According to government figures, HIV prevalence in Benin has
stabilized over the past decade at approximately 2%. An estimated
62 000 people are currently living with HIV across the country
and there are some 3300 new HIV infections each year.
At the end of 2010, an estimated 19 000 people were accessing
free antiretroviral treatment, up from about 15 000 the previous
year. Access to voluntary testing and counselling (VCT) is also
expanding at a rapid rate: 126 sites across the country now offer
VCT services, up from just 28 sites in 2006.
Mr Sidibe underscored the importance of using scare resources
with greater efficiency, transparency and accountability. He
emphasized the need to prioritize HIV resources for key affected
populations--particularly women and girls, young people, sex
workers, men who have sex with men and people who use drugs.
Eliminating new infections among children
Despite progress, only half (49%) of pregnant women in Benin have
access to services that can prevent new HIV infections in their
children. An estimated 350 000 children were newly infected with
HIV in sub-Saharan Africa in 2010.
"As President of the African Union, I would like to launch a
vibrant appeal to other African Heads of State, urging them to
continue investing in programmes that can eliminate
mother-to-child transmission of HIV," said President Yayi.
Following his meeting with Mr Sidibe, the President launched a
national plan to eliminate new infections among children by 2015,
at the Palais des Congr�s in Cotonou.
During the mission, the UNAIDS Executive Director was honoured by
Lord Chancellor Osseni Koubourath as a "Grand Officer" of the
National Order of Benin for his global leadership and engagement
in the HIV response, and for his strong commitment to promoting
human rights and dignity.
Mr Sidibe's visit to Benin was the first of a four-country
mission in West Africa. He is scheduled to meet this week with
high-level representatives from government and civil society in
Togo, Ghana and C�te d'Ivoire.
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on AIDS in Togo (23 February 2012) - http://www.aegis.org/news/unaids/2012/UN120113.html
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OAFLA chair (31 January 2012) - http://www.aegis.org/news/unaids/2012/UN120112.html
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